Sister to Sister: Homeschooling Again

It seems everywhere I go, the questions come about homeschooling; everything from “What made you decide to do that?” to “How does this affect your life as a preacher’s wife?” This last weekend was no exception. The event was a marriage seminar that my husband and I did, but, even so, it seems like we spent a lot of our one- on- one time discussing home schooling. (We love to talk about it, by the way.)
Of course, you know, if you have been reading the blog, that there’s a lot about the importance of teaching our kids and very few specific instructions about home schooling. However, if I can help anyone understand the motivation, the means or the methods of homeschooling that became such a part of our lives while Caleb and Hannah were growing up, I do think it’s a wise use of space and time. While I am not ready to say that home schooling is always the only method of successfully educating our children, I am sure that it is one very viable alternative for parents who are seeking to be Deuteronomy 6 parents in a world that has largely forsaken principles of truth and morality. For us, home-schooling was a gift from God so large in scope that we would be hard pressed to measure the benefits, many of which, we are sure, will be eternal.
So…all of that say this: If I can help you provide this blessing in your God-centered Christian home, I really would like to do that. I do not have all of the answers and much of what I learned was through trial and error in an era when home schooling families were far rarer than they are today. Caleb and Hannah are surely not products of a mom and dad who were confident and wise at all junctures. They are products of the blessings of a merciful God to whom we appealed daily for His wisdom and providence. They are, quite literally, answers to our prayers.
The homeschooling book on our site (http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Homeschool/c/3290201/offset=0&sort=normal) is there not because I know all about it, but because we put the best years of our lives into the process and we now know something about it. But mostly, because so many wonderful people need to know that they can do it. If Cindy Colley (organizationally and mentally challenged as she is) who had barely even heard of home-schooling when it was time for Caleb to go to kindergarten, could amble her way through the maze of questions and challenges for some eighteen-plus years, then you can do it if you want to do it. If you have specific questions or comments that might help others, please feel free to contact us through the website.
This has obviously been mostly a spiritual blog, to this point. But I’m convinced that questions about educating our children fall clearly under the Titus 2 directive to be guardians of our homes and love our children. They fall under the Deuteronomy 6 principle of diligently teaching our children so that our sons and our son’s sons will follow the statutes of the Lord. I think we all agree that’s the primary objective. Considering the option of home-schooling is a very wise thing to do. If I can help you in your journey, let me know. May He Bless Your Heart as you think and pray about this important decision.

From the Archives: Remembering One Back-to-School August

back-to-school_M1eTPK_u_MI’ll never forget this August of 2010, when My daughter Hannah, 23, and fresh out of college, became a high school English teacher. Hannah!…the one who had never attended a day of “real” elementary, middle or high school!  She also had never planned to be a school teacher. In fact, she had purposefully planned NOT to! Here are her thoughts that fall:
So I realize, of course, that it’s been 198264910.7 years since I’ve updated this thing. I would apologize for this, but seeing as how I’ve made no prior commitment to waste your time with my own random musings which are probably only interesting to me and maybe my mother who loves me more than any daughter deserves to be loved (my dad loves me, too, but is much less likely to even know what Tumblr is), an apology really isn’t necessary.
In the event, however, that you, the current reader, are somewhat interested in my quite unexpected post-grad way of life, keep reading. The other 90%, just stop here. This is just another, “Wow-let-me-impart-into-your-soul-some-urgent-life-changing-thoughts-that-are-really-not-that-earth-shattering-but-feel-good-to-get-off-my-chest” post.
The last time I got on here and talked about my life, I was fresh out of college, about to stay in a friend’s apartment all summer in Henderson, TN. I was doing some freelance work for a religious publication and working with some great kids in my youth minister boyfriend’s youth group. I was also speaking at youth rallies and such on some weekends. For then, that was plenty. I was just glad I didn’t have to feel like a major moocher at my parents’ house . I wanted to feel like I was doing something worthwhile. I felt that by the end of the summer, I would have another exciting plan to chase.
I had an amazing summer. I cooked every day. I had slumber parties. I dyed t-shirts. I got to speak to hundreds of girls who were hungry for truth and just someone to relate to them. I made new friends—some of which I think will last forever. I went star-gazing. I wrote a lot. I fell in love.
In the meantime, I sent my resume to as many newspapers as I could find that needed writers. I quickly discovered that not a lot of promising journalism opportunities are made available to newly graduated starry eyed writers with no major reporting experience and no Masters degrees.
By the end of the summer, I was still believing in my heart of hearts that I was going to get a call with an exciting job offer in an exciting new city in which I could spread my wings and become the competent journalist I was meant to be.
It seems God had other plans.
I got a call near the end of the summer. Chester County High School needed an English teacher and I had been recommended. Would I be interested in coming in for an interview? I chuckled. Never in my life did I ever think of myself as a public school teacher—much less HIGH SCHOOL. I was an English major, yes, but had never had a single education class, and definitely no student teaching experience. What a joke! I expressed, however, how honored I felt that I was considered, but for now, “probably not—I’ll get back to you though.”
Long story short—a week later, still no job, and my desperation was at an all-time high. The last thing I wanted to do was to financially depend on others when I was perfectly capable of working for my own paycheck. After a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to call the school back and inquire about the position. After all, it would only be a 1-year contract, it was good money for starting out (especially in this economy), and it would be good experience to have under my belt regardless.
The position was filled.
I knew it would be. Sure I did. My own stupid fault for being too good for a perfectly good job that not a lot of fresh college grads are offered.
I was kicking myself for a few weeks because of that. I kept praying. I asked God to open another door for me since I had shut that one.
Then I got another phone call.
I was sitting in McDonald’s with the boyfriend when the principal at CCHS called me and asked me to come in for an interview. Turns out the guy who was originally offered the job had a family emergency and had to give up the position. I was really sad for him, but this time, I wasn’t so smug about a temporary career path that wasn’t necessarily my first choice.
Two short weeks later, I was thrown in a classroom, responsible for the education of over 150 ninth graders, my heart pounding. What you may or may not know about me is that I’ve never stepped foot into a public school. Home schooled all my life, my expectations of public high school were…well, there weren’t any. I’m not just making funny jokes when I say I didn’t know what a hall pass was, what bus duty was, what in-school suspension was, or even what a grade book looked like. I felt like a turtle trying to run a marathon, but I put on a confident face and, although I looked like a student myself, tried to convince my students that I was aptly authoritative and deserved their respect.
I’ve somehow made it through 3 complete months of teaching. While I know this may not the path for me (and that, more than ever, I want to home school my kids), I don’t regret the decision to teach for this year. God has given me more open doors in these past 3 months than I remember having my whole life. I’m amazed at how many of my students feel comfortable opening up to me about real-life issues: divorce, abuse, sex, break-ups, self-abuse, and most importantly, how to get to heaven. I’ve had Bible studies with students who are searching for something solid and stable in their worlds that are full of everything that’s broken. I’ve had multiple opportunities to share Christ with so many different open and desperate hearts. It happens just about every day—not exaggerating.
Besides that, I’m learning so many life lessons myself that I know will inevitably help me to be a better mother, a better teacher, a better organizer, and a better communicator. God knew I needed these lessons. I complain a lot about how He’s teaching me patience and wisdom, but deep down, I can hear my dad’s voice ringing loud and clear….”This is good, Hannah. It builds character.” Every time you hear a parent say something about “character-building,” you know it’s going to feel lousy sometimes until it’s all over and you can admit it helped you to grow. I’m trying to beat myself to the chase by admitting it now. The truth is, just as a disclaimer, I complain a whole lot because my job requires so much more work and time than I ever dreamed it would (I’ve realized that all teachers are underpaid and underestimated). I am ready to experience something new, but I do not question God’s plan in placing me here. Yes, He’s using me as a mouthpiece for Him in many ways (whether or not I always make the best use of that), but more than that, I think He’s teaching me a few lessons I needed myself.
I still view my life as an adventure, despite the day-in-day-out routine I’m in at the moment. After this year, I’m excited to see what God has in store for me.
As always, I’m so unworthy and I make the dumbest mistakes. On the upside, I believe I’m learning from each one. That makes them almost worth it.

Back to School $12 or $20 Special (You can save $10.45)!

11845918_10153165486854069_742535851_nBack-to-School days mean chaos in Walmart, followed by the homeschoolers’ favorite time of year in that store—the days before you’ve officially started your home school, but all the other schools are in session. Walmart is relatively peaceful every day from 8 to 3. Your kids can roam the toy aisle while you are a couple of aisles over in the health and beauty section and you can actually hear their conversation. That’s when you love home schooling.

Of course, you moms with kids in “regular” school are thinking “But I get to go to Walmart at that time and I’m just fine NOT hearing my kids!”

But, for all moms, there are challenges that come with the Back-to-School days. We worry about what they are learning if they are at school. We worry about what they are NOT learning (that they should be) if they are at home. We worry about keeping our sanity when someone we do not even know is teaching our kids and we surely worry about keeping it if WE are teaching them.

But all of us, whether the kids are leaving home for school or not, are facing new calendar challenges. Commitments collide with limitations and it takes a real mom to make sure everything that’s supposed to happen does happen and that it all happens in sync.

So the Poems, Prayers and Promises planner is for all moms (poems and planner pages) and Cindy Colley on Homeschooling is for those who are doing it (homeschooling) or want to encourage someone who is doing it. It’s especially for those who are on the fence about doing it. The Back-to-School $12 or $20 Special is just what it seems. You get either product for 12 dollars or both for 20. (The planner is regularly $15.95, so you save $3.95 when you buy that one. The homeschooling book is regularly $14.50, so you save $2.50 when you purchase the book. Buy both and you save $10.45!)

You can access the special by clicking on the links above.

 

Parents Have to do Homework


Parents Have to do Homework. It’s Simply Imperative.

I’ve sat across the table from more than one Christian mom who shared with me that her teenage son or daughter no longer believed in God. This is not a fun conversation. It usually involves sharing a box of Kleenex and my attempts to make a friend focus on what can still be done rather than drowning in the regret of lost opportunities.

The Devil’s Number One Lie

I was lunching one day about a dozen years ago with my friend Sharon. Somehow we began to talk about our kids and spiritual- ity. I asked her if she knew why her daughter, Ellen, had never become a Christian. She began to cry. To make a long story short, Sharon told me that she and her husband Brent had emphasized academic excellence in their home. They expected serious study and excellent grades, both of which their daughter had achieved. But one day, she came home from school and just explained that all the people who had written her textbooks were very smart— PhD’s in their respective fields. “Who am I, a mere 17-year-old to challenge their well-established ‘truths’ about the age of the earth, the origin of life and the history of man? I just am really very doubtful about the existence of God.” Sharon is not alone in hearing this startling statement. It’s happening to faithful moms all over our country. And, sadly, like Ellen, many of those children are now parents, approaching their thirties, and still not Christians. They are now raising the second generation of non-believers, only this new generation has very little chance of even knowing God.

The devil loves this scenario. He is working overtime to get His number one lie (There is no God) in the hearts of your children. He is using the media and the governmentally controlled system of education to accomplish this.

Many teachers in the public system still believe in Jehovah and are in a mission field doing what they can to plant the seed in a very restricted environment. This is encouraging. But even so, the very basis of all textbook “truth” is the denial of the existence of God and the promotion of the theory of organic evolution, and this theory is most often not presented as a theory at all. It is taken for granted that young readers already ascribe to this “truth.” Statements like “Millions of years ago when…” or “Back in the days of prehistoric man…” or “When dinosaurs roamed the earth in the days before man…,” are commonplace in science, history, geography, social studies, philosophy and sociology studies. In plain terms, it is as if there is no alternative for reasonable people but to accept this theory as fact, before progressing through the study at hand.

The real facts are that this theory remains unproven and outside the realm of provability. Though your children will be shown all kinds of timelines and charts and very sophisticated-looking materials, the material has been produced in the imaginations of men and there is much evidence in the world around us that is ir- reconcilable with the evolutionary theories presented in your kids’ textbooks. The 2008 film “Expelled—No Intelligence Allowed,” produced by Nathan Frankowski and hosted by Ben Stein, show- cases the prejudice that exists in our American education system against any beliefs about the origins of life except the evolutionary theory. Reasonable, evidence- backed theories based on a plausible design/designer theory are just not allowed a hearing in the world of academia today. I believe, if I may oversimplify, that this expulsion of information from our schools is driven by money, politics and immorality in society. There are certain industries and movements that have experienced serious growth as atheism and agnosticism have grown in our society. Abortion, embryonic stem cell research, the gay rights movement, and all sorts of politically correct environmental and tolerance related initiatives cannot be funded if large numbers of people become people of real faith. These initiatives, in turn, pour money into the public schools and drive the National Education Association. Giving audience to plausible evidence of the creation of the universe by a Supreme Being is very damaging to some extremely powerful agendas, not to mention some very arrogant egos. Those who would suggest an alternate theory are often simply dismissed, out of hand, as being backward extremists.

Thus there’s an obvious calling for all Christian parents, whether our children are in the system or are educated privately.  It is imperative, for parents of faith, to make sure the “other side“ of the great origins debate is presented to our children.

NEW Book on Homeschooling

Available NOW!

First of all, it’s not an indictment against those who have made or will make another choice. Secondly, it’s surely not the work of an author who thinks she has arrived at the pinnacle of the homeschooling climb. (How can anyone ever think she knows everything about a phenomenon that’s as old as the first family and has seen as many revivals as has the old meeting house at Cane Ridge?) It’s really just a chronicle of my family’s journey and of the things I believe to be important for Moms to know as they consider homeschooling or as they persevere in this very rewarding quest. My husband says it’s the book he wishes someone else had written about twenty-five years ago. He says it would have saved our family a lot of money and angst.

I don’t know about that, but I do know I tried to make it practical (dealing with the real issues you may face) and encouraging. It answers questions like:

*What about socialization?

*What if I didn’t graduate from college myself?

*When is a good time to begin?

*Can my homeschooled kids get college scholarships?

*But this is overwhelming. Where do I start?

* How do I withdraw my children from public school?

* Is there life after homeschooling? (How adult homeschoolers are faring in the “real world”.)

* What about all-day-long discipline in the homeschool?

I make no apologies for the fact that putting faith in our children was our most important reason for homeschooling and thus, is a major theme of the book. So, many of the ideas and related experiences in it may be helpful to those who are not homeschooling, but are diligently building faith in their families. I am prayerful that this book could play even a small part in ultimately preparing the next generation to defend the cause of Christ against the inevitable attacks of humanism. To do this, our kids have to have a good work ethic, they must be independent thinkers and we must foster in them an enthusiasm about learning truth. That’s what this book is about.

No Title Yet, But It’s A Book About Homeschooling

I love writing this book. It’s just some stuff I need to say now that I’m finished with teaching all twelve grades, coaching academics and sports for 22 years, doing all the gajillion field trips and being school teacher, janitor, hall monitor, bus driver and lunchroom lady all in one. It’s the big exhale of a homeschool mom when it’s finished. It’s the confessions of a home educator who found out slowly you don’t have to wear denim jumpers and white tennis shoes. I didn’t love (or even remotely like) dissecting frogs or anything that was math with parentheses and finding x. And I don’t care if I never see another ACT practice test. But we’re done! And although I didn’t always realize it in the moment, I wouldn’t trade the time I spent homeschooling the kids for any career or leisurely life of the rich and famous. (But now that they’ve graduated, I could consider…)

I’m so glad for the decision that never “hit me like a ton of bricks” but rather “snuck up” from behind and made me think, really hard, about what comprises a good education and how my kids could have one. This is just the exhale. No more critical eyes from folks who really don’t think it will work. No more counting days, reporting curriculum choices and rushing to contact the person who may have the used curriculum I need before someone else does. No more. Many times, I said, “Why doesn’t he grow up a little?” He did. I remember saying “Now, your room is clean, I want it to say that way.” Now it does. “Why don’t you turn that loud music off?” She did. “Could you please let me have a few moments of peace and quiet?” I’ve got them. Can you please stop tracking that dirt on the carpet?” They did.

Some days lasted an eternity. But the whole journey lasted a moment. Here’s an except from Chapter One.

Everybody Home Schools…
My daughter calls me “Captain Obvious” when I make such a statement. It should be clear to every parent that the most important part of her child’s education does occur in the home and it happens prior to the first day of kindergarten. Primary school, then is the school that is in session in every home in which children live. Everything else is secondary school. Mental and emotional development are on the fast track during those first five years of a child’s life and much of a child’s future is actually shaped during these extremely formative years. So, in a very real sense, every home is a school.

Just as the social jello has been mixed and has mostly gelled prior to the sixth birthday, so the academic aptitude is largely determined prior to official school age. You may be thinking “Well, that only makes sense because certainly the intelligence quota of each child is fixed from birth or even before.” But there are so many things besides IQ that factor into academic success; things like whether or not a child loves to learn, whether or not he listens well, whether or not she has qualified teachers and readily available materials, whether or not her little world is goal oriented and achievement supportive, and whether or not he is self-disciplined.

These are contingencies that are mostly decided before school age and largely by primary caregivers during the preschool years. Arguably, the most expansive influence in an entire lifetime is that wielded by those caregivers. Stop and ask yourself at this moment “Who most influenced my character, my world view and my major life decisions. You have, according to mountains of research, likely answered that it was someone who cared for you in the first five years.

So, moms, the primary school in your home is not a lobby where you wait for education to begin. It’s the most defining part of your child’s lifetime. It matters more than any other segment of that education. So what are the components of a great primary home school?

Well that and so much more is what the book is about. It’s not written from the perspective of an expert. That perspective’s not mine to share. It’s more about the journey that we’re glad we decided to take. It starts with baby discipline and covers lots of potholes, curves and even U-turns. It ends with the collegiate worlds of two of those kids who were homeschooled….You know… those kids. I’m hoping it can be ready by mid-2011; maybe even before. Nah….Early is more likely to happen in getting the Christmas shopping all done and wrapped before December 24th than in getting a book published. It just doesn’t happen.